Press Releae: CAIR-Chicago Asks Library Group to Drop Anti-Muslim Bigot from Panel
(CHICAGO, IL, 7/9/09) The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) today called on the American Library Association (ALA) to drop an “Islamophobe” from a panel discussion on dispelling stereotypes about Islam.
Robert Spencer, publisher of the anti-Islam Internet hate site “Jihad Watch,” is scheduled to speak July 12 on a panel, titled “Perspectives on Islam: Beyond the Stereotyping,” at the ALA annual conference in Chicago. One other panelist already withdrew in protest over Spencer’s participation.
In a letter to the ALA, CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab wrote in part:
“I ask you to rescind the invitation to Mr. Spencer in order to maintain the integrity of the panel and the reputation of the ALA.
“I understand that the ALA will argue that it is in favor of promoting diversity of opinion and that it is strongly against censorship. I fully concur with those ideals, but question if that is in fact what you are doing by abetting grotesque viewpoints that lie well outside the bounds of reason and civilized debate…one would hope that the ALA would employ some level of professional criteria to ensure the topical integrity of those whose opinions it seeks.
“The ALA clearly failed to properly vet the professional integrity of Mr. Robert Spencer, a man who claims that Islam is synonymous with fascism, and that Islam at its core is a violent doctrine that encourages the murder of non-Muslims. Spencer’s website Jihadwatch.com is a haven for the most vile and hateful of anti-Muslim innuendo…
“The independent national media watch group, FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting), identifies Spencer as one of the “Dirty Dozen: America’s leading Islamophobes” who systematically “spread fear, bigotry, and misinformation.” The special report, entitled “Smearcasters” provides examples of Spencer’s sensational views…
“Would the ALA invite a notorious anti-Semite on a panel that aims to dispel stereotypes against Jews? Would they allow such an invitation to squeeze through under the guise of promoting diversity and averting censorship?
“People are free to hold extreme, bigoted views but whether they should be invited by reputable associations like the ALA to spew these views is a different question. That is the question ALA must answer…”
In recent months, even other anti-Muslim Internet sites have criticized Spencer for his ties to “Eurofacists.”
The blog “Little Green Footballs” (LGF) notes that Spencer was listed as a speaker at a European conference in May “organized by a group called ‘Pro Köln’ a successor to the notorious fascist group ‘Deutsche Liga für Volk und Heimat’ (the ‘German League for People and Homeland’).”
LGF goes on to note that the Pro Köln group “is under observation by the German inland secret service…One of the main organizers of ‘Pro Köln’ is Manfred Rouhs. Here are two photos of Rous with hardcore neo-Nazi activist Axel Reitz, who the local media call ‘the Hitler of Cologne.’”
The LGF blog, also known for its Islamophobic viewpoint, wrote of Spencer’s site: “His website has descended into a true hate site at this point, dominated by extreme, bigoted commenters who regularly advocate genocide and mass murder of Muslims.”
Spencer also recently supported a conference in Florida featuring Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders.
In 2007, Spencer spoke at a so-called “Counterjihad Brussels 2007″ conference in Belgium attended by those with links to far-right parties such as Filip Dewinter of Vlaams Belang (Belgium) and Ted Ekeroth of Sverigedemokraterna (Sweden). Both parties have been accused of either having a racist platform, a neo-Nazi past or having links to neo-Nazis and other racists.
Vlaams Belang is the successor to the Vlaams Blok party, which was banned in 2004 for being an illegal racist political faction. (Vlaams Belang’s founders were Nazi collaborators in World War II.)
Of Sverigedemokraterna, the International Herald Tribune wrote: “Sverigedemokraterna, or the Sweden Democrats, have been part of this country’s political landscape for almost 20 years, but they were considered too close to the Nazi-inspired far-right to contend for large numbers of votes.” (7/7/06)
Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch Board Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald wrote on that hate site: “Only one group, only one belief-system, distinguishes itself by appearing incapable of fitting in. And that is Muslims, and Islam…if one really knew what Islam contained…then how could any decent person remain a Muslim?”
He also recommended that western nations be “Islam-proofed the way a house is child-proofed,” compared Muslims to Nazis and urged that they be boycotted: “[I]t should not be hard to find ways to limit the spread or practice of Islam. And if in addition to whatever local, state and federal government officials do, private parties simply conduct their own boycott of goods and services offered by Muslims, in the same way that they would have refused to buy, in 1938, a German Voigtlander camera…”
CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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CAIR-Chicago is a chapter of America’s largest Muslim civil rights group which has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to promote justice, enhance the understanding of Islam, and empower American Muslims.
CONTACT: Ahmed Rehab, Executive Director, CAIR-Chicago, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, 312.212.1520; or 202.870.0016; Reem Rahman, Communications Coordinator, CAIR-Chicago, E-Mail: email@example.com, 217.493.0912 or 312.212.1520; Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR National Communications Director, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.488.8787 or 202.744.7726